Presentation of the project

Dear visitor,

        You have entered the « Project RICA IV - by MKX » blog, and you are probably wondering : « What is it about ? ».

        We will answer this question in this first post. To begin with, we are students of a French engineering school called « Ecole des Mines d’Alès », EMA for short, located in the south of France in the city of Alès. We are apprentices of the first class of the new Mechatronics course, which we shortened to MKX. The objective is to obtain an engineering degree in three years.

          During those 3 years we work on a project associated with many courses : conceiving the fourth version of the « Blind Cells Investigation Robot » called RICA in French (Robot d’Inspection de Cellules Aveugles) for the CEA (Commissariat for Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies) of Marcoule.

Note : If you want to know more about the RICA you can check the summary HERE or check our context article HERE.

           This blog is a support for one of our missions, which must prove we are acquiring the necessary skills for the project and for our future work life as engineers. Its content will keep a track of our work and will be evaluated, resulting in a grade, so we intend to make it understandable for everyone.

        In the articles you will be advised of : our courses, research, studies, but also the project’s progression, tasks we completed and a description of tools used.
We hope you now understand the point of this blog and will find its content worth reading.

We are a team of 7 students managing the blog:

- Florent Aymard / Project manager : he manages articles and deadlines, group's coordination

- Yanis Bouziane / Context reporter : responsible for articles about the project and information regarding the project's context and existing technologies

- Vincent-Alexandre Desmier / Informatics and Automatism manager : responsible for articles related to computer sciences or tools and automatic systems.

- Thibaud Durand / Blog Manager : responsible for esthetical, structural and redactionnal corrections, as well as managing the blog's layout.

- Paul Galmiche / Electronics and nuclear manager: responsible for articles related to electronical technologies and nuclear field.

- Florian Lison / Project-life reporter and mechanic manager : responsible for articles regarding news, events and the project's evolution, as well as mechanical technologies.

- Philippe Thuiller / System Engineering manager : responsible for articles related to methods and tools used for engineering.

Our School - Ecole des Mines d'Alès

Our school’s name is “Ecole des Mines d’Alès”, we also call it EMA for short, it can be translated as “School of Mines of Alès”. It was founded in 1843 under the king Louis-Philippe to form competent master Miners, hence the name. It is also one of the oldest Engineering schools in France.
Between 1845 and 1928, France’s mining activities diminished so the school changed its focus to teach industrial techniques. In 1965, the school is able to give an official Engineer degree. In 1990 the school now has two campus in the cities of Nîmes and Pau.


Since, it also developed its partnerships with the industry and created the “Incubator” a project-developing environment for students wishing to create something new. To this day, the school participated in developing 245 projects.
In 2012 the school joined the “Mînes-Télécom” group composed of several french “Ecoles des Mînes”.


As an Engineering school, the EMA offers different formations to students. The standard formation is 3 years long and can be entered after preparatory classes, or after acquiring a technician degree (2 years after the Baccalauréat), it forms Generalist Engineers.


The school also offers specialized courses and options, as well as continuing education and Dual Education System. We, students of the Mecatronics (MKX) formation, are the first dual-educated Mecatronics promotion in this school.
logo mkx.jpg


        The robot R.I.C.A (for “Robot d’Inspection pour Cellules Aveugles”, literally “robot for blind cells investigation”) is a robot developed by the C.E.A. (“Commissariat à l’énergie Atomique et aux énergies alternatives” that means “Commissariat for Atomic Energy and alternative energies”) for dismantling the high radioactive activity blind cells.

       Blind cells are kind of rooms where radioactivity is extremely high and humans can't enter. It is very difficult to dismantle because very few equipment can support this level of radioactivity.

     Dismantling these cells is a crucial point in order to continue maintenance and decommissioning operations. This is why the RICA is developed to explore and help dismantle these blind cells:

      This small tracked robot can carry a complete unit of measurement with lots of innovative equipment and can also be equipped with a remote-handling arm in order to do some samplings.

     Radioactivity isn’t the only problem during dismantling operations: blind cells are old rooms with many obstacles which are problems for robots. Knowing that, the C.E.A. and the “Ecole des Mines d’Alès” have agreed a deal in order to develop a new version of the RICA : the RICA IV.

    The main point of this upgrade is to cross obstacles: the RICA IV has to cross stairs with a height of 28 cm by step. We also have to consider the pit crossing and to make it able to pass under obstacles. Another point of this project is about collaboration between RICA IV and other robots in order to do some important dismantling operations.

    This project will last 3 years but further improvements will be made by the next mechatronic promotions to improve this dismantling tool.

You can find more information about the RICA in this patent.